Reading Honduras: Don’t Be Afraid, Gringo

My choice for reading about Honduras: Don’t Be Afraid, Gringo by Elvia Alvarado.

I had a draft post all set up and ready to go, but I just scratched it.

I’m an American, living in the USA, with the government of my country stopping people from Honduras at our border right now, ripping their children away, with no regard or understanding for what brought them here.

So, especially fellow Americans, here’s a book that you should read. It’s a story, straight from the source, about life in Honduras and the struggles that women face everyday as they fight for a more equitable existence. It gives you a direct, unfiltered line to meet someone’s humanity, at a time when the powers-that-be are trying very hard to turn you away from that.

So you Americans who really want to help the poor have to change your own government first. You Americans who want to see an end to hunger and poverty have to take a stand. You have to fight just like we’re fighting—even harder. You have to be ready to be jailed, to be abused, to be repressed. And you have to have the character, the courage, the morale, and the spirit to confront whatever comes your way.
– Elvia Alvarado
Honduran Girl
Honduran Girl (image via pixhere.com)

Country #41: Honduras

Hello, Central America!
Country #41 is Honduras. Looking forward to jumping right in; I’ve got my book lined up, and I’m ready to learn.

Reading Guatemala: The Popol Vuh

A foreign power attempting to wipe out an ancient religion and culture. A story formed by oral tradition, written down by an unknown scribe in hopes that future generations would know their own history. That’s how the Popul Vuh came to be. And it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to experience it now.

The Popul Vuh is sometimes referred to as The Mayan Bible, but that’s misleading. It doesn’t claim to be the Word of God, or a spiritual text that tells the faithful how to live life. It’s the origin story  and cosmology of the Quiche Maya, who live in what is now modern-day Guatemala. The Quiche refer to it as an Ilb’al – an “instrument of sight” – and also as “The Book of the Mat”, since it was traditionally told to an audience of people sitting on woven mats

There are tales of silent nothingness, restless and vengeful gods, the making of the first men and women. The book concludes with the genealogy and migration of the Quiche Maya, and with this mournful passage:

This is enough about the being of Quiche, given that there is no longer a place to see it. There is the original book and ancient writing owned by the lords, now lost, but even so, everything has been completed here concerning Quiche, which is now named Santa Cruz.

There are numerous translations available, but I chose the one by Dennis Tedlock. I just read that he passed away last year, which makes me very sad; there are quite a few very lovely tributes to him out in the world which goes to show what an impact he had. He’s left a great legacy of translated works from both the Maya, and the Zuni people in the American Southwest. I’ll be moving on from the Popul Vuh to his translation of the Rabinal Achí, a Mayan drama that survives from pre-Columbian times and that’s still performed annually in Guatemala. How cool is that? While I’m at it, I’m also reading a couple of books by his wife, Barbara Tedlock. It’s like a light switch has flipped for me, and I’ll be learning all I can about this corner of the world…stay tuned!

An original painting showing figures from the Popol Vuh
Popol Vuh, Oriente (image by Cuilomerto (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons)

Country #38: Guatemala

Back to Central America! I’m never gone very long, and that suits me just fine.

Looking forward to what will be a very interesting adventure, I’m sure.